The Disaster that Was the Hamburg G20

We’ll start with US News, because while a lot of the best articles are in German, English is easier for a lot of folks. Me included (We’ll get to those German articles in a bit.) Germans Angry Over ‘Orgy of Violence’ at Merkel’s Pre-Election G20 | World News | US News

(The 3 photos reproduced here are from the Bild.de story referenced below As usual you can click them for a larger version.)

The failure of security at the G20 has images running around that are – to say the least – disturbing.

Merkel had wanted to demonstrate to G20 partners, including Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, her commitment to freedom of speech and rejected the notion that some cities were out of bounds as summit venues.

The strategy has backfired, said some commentators.

“I can barely breathe with anger because Chancellor Merkel and Hamburg mayor (Olaf) Scholz trivialize the brutal riots as ‘not acceptable’,” wrote a commentator in Bild am Sonntag.

US News references Bild, but provides no link, because Bild doesn’t bother to translate their stuff into English. (Only fair, I don’t see the German language section of US News…). And we will get to Bild, but first Spiegel DOES translate their stuff into English. Or at least some of it.

Stores were looted, cars burned and bands of anarchists marauded through the streets. At times, the police were completely overwhelmed by the scale of violence at the G-20 summit in Hamburg. What went wrong? Source: Black Friday: Police Failures Mar G-20 Summit – SPIEGEL ONLINE

Now Spiegel isn’t exactly part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy™. They are more like the German version of the New York Times. In favor of government, skeptical of individual action in the economy. Or in political moves. But violence on this scale isn’t something that Germany – at least in the past 70 years or so – has experience with.

(Still, if I was to place a bet I wouldn’t bet against Merkel even though the Social Democrats are trying to put all of the blame on her.)

But back to Spiegel. Hamburg police (in the person of the Chief of the Department) “guaranteed” the safety of the residents. The mayor said residents would hardly notice what was going on. You don’t often see naivete on that scale.

But on Friday, July 7, none of these sentences applied. Even that morning, a marauding gang was raging through the Hamburg neighborhoods of Ottensen and Altona, setting cars on fire by the dozens. Later in the day, a mob raged for hours in the alternative Schanzenviertel neighborhood, long a hotbed of leftist activity. They broke windows, lit barricades on fire, looted stores and threatened to kill police.

Because those residents of those average Hamburg neighborhoods and the cars (probably fueled by OIL!) were evil minions of the global capitalist cabal. Or something.

Bild, has some great photos – 2 are above – of the “festivities” in Hamburg. And they ask a straightforward question. Gesucht! – Wer kennt diese G20-Verbrecher? – News Inland – Bild.de (Who can Identify These G20 Criminals?)

Police officers at the Hamburg-based G20 Summit of criminals were attacked with stones, Molotov cocktails and steel floors. Who can identify the criminals?

Two helicopter pilots were blinded by lasers. Flares were fired into crowds. Molotov Cocktails. Rocks. Bottles. (Full bottles.) Then of course there was the obligatory looting of small stores. Because capitalism. Or something.

Bild also has a “premium” story on how the police worked until they were exhausted. In part this was because the complete underestimating of the number of hooligans that would travel from around the EU to riot in Hamburg. (Make no mistake; these were NOT demonstrations, they were riots.) There were not enough police. They didn’t respond in time. Though there are photos in several publications of the Polizei using water cannons to try and disperse mobs, it mostly didn’t work.

Two other sources Zeit.de and “The Local – Germany’s news in English” Seem to have mostly booted any coverage of Hamburg. Though The Local does have one story on Merkel “praising the peaceful protestors” while saying exactly 1 sentence about the anarchy. (“I strongly condemn…” That’ll show ’em!) I suppose more coverage could be coming on Monday, but I’m not holding my breath.

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